Grantee Interview – Truuth

Grantee Interview – Truuth
Written by Jonathan Chak,

Join Commercialisation Facilitator, Jonathan Chak in an interview with a recent grant recipient, Mike Simpson: Co-Founder and CEO of Truuth. In this video, you can learn about his experience with the program, with tips and advice for those who are considering the Accelerating Commercialisation service for their business. 

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Transcription of Interview with Mike Simpson from Truuth

Jonathan 2:26 

Hello everyone, my name is Jonathan Chak from i4Connect, I’m one of the facilitators of the Entrepreneurs’ Programme Accelerating Commercialisation. Today, we’ve got Mike Simpson, the Co-Founder and CEO of Truuth, a Sydney-based technology company, building the world’s most secure, accurate and reliable digital identity service. Mike and the team applied for the Accelerating Commercialisation grant late 2020 and have recently joined hundreds of other innovative companies in Australia, now being supported by the Entrepreneurs’ Programme. Welcome Mike. 

Mike 2:57 

Thanks. It’s great to be with you today. 

Jonathan 3:01 

But first of all, congratulations for being a successful recipient of the Accelerating Commercialisation grant. We are very thrilled to have you here today to share with us your experience, the impact that it has brought on to your business, and hopefully you can share a couple of tips for fellow entrepreneurs out there who are interested in applying for the program. 

Mike 3:20 

Well, I’m delighted to obviously be successful in the grant, very happy to share our experience and, and also some tips along the way. 

Jonathan 3:30 

Let’s start by telling us a little bit about the business. 

Mike 3:36 

Truth ID was formed three years ago; as you mentioned in the intro, our mission is to deliver the world’s most accurate secure and user friendly, digital identity services. 

We do that by verifying the identity of users, the user behind the device. And so where we’re really different from most other organizations that do authentication or verification is that we’re not just authenticating devices, we’re authenticating the user behind the device. And that requires us to capture a lot of detail on the users particularly capturing biometrics, in order to be able to ensure that we can prove they are who they say they are. And so, the problem that solves in society, is, is largely one of weak and stolen passwords. So, I read about 80% of all data breaches that happen across the globe happen because people may still using weak passwords, and so we solved that problem by replacing the weak passwords with any combination of the user’s biometrics: face, voice, fingerprint, or any combination of those. 

Jonathan 4:43 

Right, that is really an exciting opportunity, and I’m so glad there’s a locally grown company, tackling that problem for us. So, how did you hear about the Accelerating Commercialisation program in the first place? Did anyone encourage you to apply? How did it happen? 

Mike 5:01 

We actually heard about the Accelerating Commercialisation grant through another tech company, called Laava, and they had been a recent recipient of funding for Accelerating Commercialisation, and we were in discussions with them about a commercial offering, and they explained their experience in going through the grant process and, and then we went away and did our own due diligence and research on the commercialisation grant funding , and then  decided to put in an application. There’s probably six to nine months between that initial discussion with Laava and when we eventually submitted, but there was a lot of learning along the way and a lot of research, and a lot of proposal writing along the way as well. 

Jonathan 5:42 

Right, interestingly Laava is one of my portfolio companies as well, and they are at the end of finishing up their, their AC project so… Now, it’s interesting how it’s the law of attraction: great founders are surrounded by great founders, and that’s how we found you guys. 

I got a question around your competitive advantage. Cybersecurity is definitely an area of increasing concern, right; because it’s such a big opportunity competition in this space is very tight. Furthermore, biometric authentication in itself is nothing new. So what is that burning desire, we touched on a little bit, but what’s that burning desire, the target customer have in choosing bypass over other solutions in the market. And what is it that’s unique about your solution that they can’t find in your competition? 

Mike 6:36 

We believe that there are three key differentiators with Truuth Biopass relative to what else is out there in the marketplace at the moment, and that the first is when it comes to biometrics. We believe that the user should have choice, they should have choice as to whether they want to use their face, their voice, their fingerprint or indeed, if it’s a highly secure, or high risk transaction or authentication event. They should have the opportunity to use multiple of those biometrics, for a higher level of assurance a high level of security. 

Second, the second differentiator is that we are device agnostic. So we don’t really care whether you’re using your mobile phone or your laptop or your desktop, or any other device for that matter. 

We don’t force you to have your, your biometrics encrypted on the device. Of course you do have thatoption if you want. Alternatively, if you want to have a device agnostic experience where you can authenticate with your biometrics on any device, we allow that, as well. Now that’s important, by the way because if you, if you have your biometrics that are locked to a particular device, of course, if you lose that device, it creates a bit of pain and suffering to go through the account recovery process, whereas we solve that by allowing you to authenticate on any device. 

And then the third differentiator is that when it comes to really high risk use cases, particularly things like large foreign transfers or access to really sensitive data, that’s where it’s really important that not only can you employ multiple biometrics for higher assurance, but you can also have a test of user liveness, embedded in every authentication event. And so what we do is when you’re authenticating with your face or your voice, we’re doing a test that you are live and present at that moment as well, to ensure that there aren’t fraudulent actors out there using a photo of you or a video of you or even a deep fake of you in order to get access to your accounts and therefore access to your sensitive data. 

Jonathan 8:49 

Well it’s interesting how many different players out there in the market are in the same space working, trying to tackle the same problem. Every company has their own nuances and how like slightly how different or unique they are solving the same problem. and at AC we do look at the notion of novelty – I’m pretty sure you would remember that during the process we really dug deep into, how are you different. And I think you guys did really well on that front. 

Whilst we have a very strong value proposition a good execution plan is also very critical to success so when you have applied for funding from AC, what was your proposition like? Do you mind sharing with us some of the details of the plan and what  you’re actually trying to achieve with this project in particular? 

Mike 9:40 

Sure. At its heart, the project is all about commercializing Truuth Biopass, the multi biometric authentication service, and that consists of two components. It consists of the platform component, which performs all of the, what you might call the authentication orchestration. So when you’re trying to get access to a building or you’re trying to get access to some corporate services or you’re trying to get access to one of your consumer accounts online., there’s a, there’s an entire orchestration layer that happens outside of your device. And so we had to deal with that capability. And then the second component of course is what actually happens on the device itself. And so what we’ve built is an authentication app that can capture your biometrics and, upon request from the orchestration platform can then ask you to verify with your face, with your voice, with your fingerprint, or with any combination of those biometrics. So what we’ve built is a proof of concept of that solution. And, and then what we took to Accelerating Commercialisation was a plan to take the proof of concept and build it into a production platform. And along that journey to engage with our enterprise clients to work with them to demonstrate the value that it delivers, and to take the proof of concept into a truly commercial offering in partnership with those other enterprises that we’ve partnered up with. 

Jonathan 11:11 

Right, yeah, we’ve got some really great enterprise first customers there with different use cases. Yeah, I  can’t I wait to see how it plays out, you know, Having the solution in action. 

Moving on, I’ve got a question for you. 

During the AC process, what would you say are some similarities and differences between seeking funding from AC and raising capital from private investors. Do you want to share your views on the mentality, the process and the effort resources required for both of those? 

Mike 11:49 

Yeah, I’d love to. Let’s start with the similarities. 

I think what’s common to both is that you do need to have a very clear narrative. The clear narrative has to tell a story about the use cases that you solve, it has to tell a story about the enterprise demand that is already there in the market, waiting for your solution. You need to tell a story about how you’re different from the other solutions that are already in the market place, and  you need to tell a story about the fact that you’ve got the team, and the IP that can deliver on that vision. So that’s what’s common across both the private investor and the AC funding strengths. 

Perhaps where there’s a little bit of difference is, you know when it comes to the investor discussions, you could have mentioned that due diligence goes even deeper, you know, particularly around things like the future view on financials, you know also things like shareholder rights, of course. 

And of course the investors are really looking around that medium-term story. So what the story we told for Accelerating Commercialisation is very much one of, here’s the next 12, 18, 24 months in our journey to take the proof of concept into a commercial solution. And the story that the investors want to hear of course, is that, but also where you aim to end up in five years time, and how are you developing a global presence over that period of time. So I think they’re the main similarities and differences in terms of the discussions but on the whole, I’d say, you know, very very similar conversations between the two. 

Jonathan 13:36 

Right, thank you. Did going through the AC application process add any value over and above the funding itself? 

Mike 13:48 

Absolutely. We spent a lot of time detailing how we plan to commercialise Biopass, and that was, that was an excellent exercise for us to go. I think in the absence of putting the application for commercialisation, e we would have taken a lot longer to develop that thinking, to define the milestones, to define the workstreams. So, the discipline of having to put that down on paper and describe the deliverables that each of the milestones and describe how the team would, , would come in behind that, and deliver that. It was hugely beneficial in us fast tracking the overall commercialisation process. 

And so as we look out now, we have a really clear plan over the next 18 months in terms of exactly how each of these streams are going to come to life, exactly what we’re going to deliver over a quarterly basis over the next six quarters, and exactly what we need to do in terms of our team in order to make that happen. So it’s been hugely beneficial for that purpose. 

Jonathan 14:48 

Wow, thanks for the Insights, really great to hear that going through the process together actually benefited the company in consolidating the vision and the clear execution steps. That’s good. 

Lastly, are there any recommendations or advice, you can give to entrepreneurs out there, who are currently raising capital and perhaps wants to seek funding from AC? 

Mike 15:39 

Well first I would highly recommend it. It’s, it’s been absolutely fantastic for us, for those reasons I mentioned- not just because the dollars itself, but also because it really forced us to do that forward looking planning. And so that, itself is hugely beneficial. 

Secondly, I guess the advice I would give people who are contemplating AC funding, is, I’d suggest to them – be very prepared to devote a significant amount of time and energy to this process over the next six months. It’s not something you should go into lightly, it’s something that requires very careful thought. It requires very careful planning. It requires a very clear narrative, in terms of why you deserve the funding. And so as a result, you need to commit time, you need to commit energy. And then, what we found for example is if we just had to earmark time on a weekly basis to develop the proposal to the point where it was ready to submit. So don’t take that lightly. But if you are willing to invest the time and energy. It’s definitely worth it. 

Even if you don’t get the funds, it’s still worth it because you are developing a very clear plan, and for yourself. 

Jonathan 16:34 

Thank you very much, Mike. I guess I have taken enough of your time today. I’m really looking forward to working on the project with Truuth and with you and the team. And I’m probably going to see you very soon again. 

Mike 16:49 

Thanks, Jonathan, and thank you for all of your your guidance and feedback through the process – it’s been hugely beneficial. And yeah, we can’t wait to to work with you over the coming 12 months to deliver the solution. 

Jonathan 17:01 

My pleasure. Thank you very much again, have a good weekend. 

Mike 17:04 

Thanks. 


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Grantee Interview – Truuth

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Grantee Interview – Truuth